Earlier today, I went along to The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum archives to view a selection of dresses from the 1920s (you can see my visit on Snapchat, find me @daydreamer.net). I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the museum’s stores – rack upon rack of vintage clothing, from the Victorian days to military wear and French high fashion. It was really something and I urge anyone interested in fashion or history to book on one of the monthly tours.
These dresses, pictured, were stunning – so detailed and fragile and I can only image the stories behind each piece – and they will be on show this Saturday night at ‘Dundee: A City of Innovation & Design 1920 – 1940’. One dress, pictured below, is a wedding gown from the Twenties and the museum even has a photo of the bride wearing it!
I was also talked through a straw bonnet from 1820, which the Museum Conservator, Becky, is mending (through a painstaking process!). I can’t begin to tell you how special Becky’s work is, but she will be at The McManus on Saturday night along with the bonnet and dresses. The event is in collaboration with the Festival of Museums (a national campaign featuring over 100 events at Scotland’s museums this weekend), and will see the McManus Cafe transformed with a 1920s theme and live jazz music, along with a pop-up cinema showing films of Dundee in the 20s and 30s. Becky will talk guests through her work, and the Tuscan straw she’s currently trying to reconstruct as part of the bonnet’s mending and preserving process.
I find this sort of thing fascinating and I’m completely in awe of people who understand a craft and how to preserve it. Growing up, my mum always taught me to take care of my things and, to this day, I keep my shoes in their boxes and my bags in their dust bags, and any fragile pieces are kept in garment bags. I love the craft of making clothes using beautiful fabrics and specialist techniques and I adore clothes with embellishment and beading, though I don’t own many pieces myself. I admire the detail and intricacy – I like to believe that in every stitch lives the story of the maker, the nimble fingers of the person who dedicated hours of their lives to creating a thing of beauty and such enjoyment for others. In every piece lies a tale, whether its with the maker or the wearer – this is what I find so special about vintage or bespoke fashion, so I’m very excited (and I feel rather privileged) that The McManus is sharing its treasures with us this weekend.
I hope to see you there! Book your free tickets here on Eventbrite and find Dundee: A City of Innovation & Design 1920 – 1940 on Facebook.
Images: Kris Miller